Natural gas powers roughly 15.2 million vehicles worldwide. Natural gas vehicles (NGVs) are good choices for high-mileage, centrally fueled fleets. Compressed natural gas (CNG) tanks and safety are improving, and in many cases CNG can provide adequate range for the required vehicle application. The most important advantage of natural gas as a transportation fuel is reduced greenhouse gas emissions compared to conventional gasoline and diesel fuels.
On the other side, regarding hybrid vehicles, John Meese, senior director of heavy equipment for Waste Management, told Waste Dive “We’ll adopt any technology that we can that gives us a cutting edge.” He said traditional wheel loader engines burn between 7.5 to 9 gallons of diesel fuel per day and run for the entirety of a full shift, whereas the LX1 prototype only used 4 to 5 gallons per day and its engine was active for less than half that time. This is due to the fact that the LX1 runs on a 3.5-liter engine versus a 13-liter engine in standard models. Also reduced slippage can help cut back on the large expense of buying new tires for transfer station operations. Meese estimated that a 5-10% reduction in tire expenses can lead to six-figure savings. “So, if we have to spend a little bit more to meet emissions standards in California — but in doing so we can get dramatic fuel savings, tire cost savings, the potential for hours of operations savings — we’ll go ahead and buy the hybrid,” said Meese.
While many companies have been putting their resources into new vehicles powered by natural gas, this is just a reminder that electric or hybrid options probably will play a larger role in fleets of the future.